Although Specialized launched a fully overhauled Enduro for 2017, it still felt there was room for improvement, which is why the 2018 bike gets treated to some significant alterations. Along with the new adjustable geometry, all Enduros now sport lengthier reach figures, tweaks to the rear suspension and come equipped with 800mm bars. But just how do these changes translate to the trail?
- The Specialized Enduro Comp 29/6Fattie is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
Specialized Enduro Comp 29/6Fattie frame
While the new Enduro’s X-Wing frame layout and Horst Link, boost-width back-end looks almost identical to its 2017 counterpart, there are a number of revisions that aren’t so easy to spot.
Let’s start with the extended reach figure. Our Medium test sample grows by 10mm over the 2017 version and now offers a reach of 440mm — not crazy by any stretch but it certainly makes a difference on the trail (the Large grows by 12mm to 462mm).
The revamped Specialized Enduro Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
The Enduro’s geometry adjustment comes courtesy of a small, square washer, which sits at the base of the shock. It’s not the neatest solution I’ve seen to do this sort of thing (think MinoLink by Trek, for example), but does the job well enough, even if making adjustments can be fiddly.
To steepen the head angle and lift the bottom bracket, you’ll need to sit the washer between the shock yoke and shock. For the lower setting, which is where I was happiest, the washer needs to be fitted in-between the bolt head and shock yoke. This will alter the bottom bracket height by 8mm, sitting it at 344mm off the ground and reduce the head angle by 0.5-degree, which I measured at 65.1-degrees in the low setting.
It’s easiest to completely remove your shock should you want to switch between settings, and due to the number of parts that can go missing, I’d not recommend doing this on the trail.
Rear-wheel travel has been reduced to 160mm (previously 165mm on the 29er) and in this case, is taken care of via the RockShox Monarch Plus RC3 shock, which comes with Specialized’s easy-to-use Autosag system that helps with initial set-up.
The shock has Specialized’s AutoSag valve, which is there to aid shock set-up Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Cable routing is internal and almost totally rattle free, the bottom bracket is a threaded rather than press-fit number and it’s worth noting the alloy frames don’t get the SWAT storage in the down tube that you’ll see on the pricier carbon models.
Specialized Enduro Comp 29/6Fattie kit
There’s quite a bit of own-brand kit bolted to the Comp but that’s no bad thing.
I’m a big fan of Specialized’s finishing kit overall, and really appreciate the small touches such as offering the Enduros with 800mm bars as standard. The Henge saddle is also one of my preferred perches, so there’s no complaints there either.
It’s a similar story with Specialized’s Butcher tyres, with the deep tread biting into soft mud well, yet still clearing and clawing across roots and rocks in a confident manner when it counts.
SRAM’s 1×11 GX gearing does the job well and with little fuss, even after a bit of rough treatment while the Guide R brakes, though not the most refined in the Guide range, still trump many other brands offerings on bikes at this price.
At the rear, the Monarch Plus RC3 rear shock offers three different compression modes (open, pedal and lock), which can easily be toggled between thanks to the blue lever at side of its reservoir.
The RockShox Monarch Plus features a piggyback to aid temperature management Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Taking care of bump-eating duties up front is the RockShox Yari fork. Having ridden this fork for a couple of years now, I’ve been consistently impressed with its stiff, accurate feel and overall control, plus the fact that it’s a doddle to alter its spring curve using the supplied volume spacers.
Specialized Enduro Comp 29/6Fattie ride impressions
Confidence and speed come easy to the Enduro. Its shape and balance feel natural and easy to acclimatise to, while its forgiving ride means riding blind, head-on into a boulder field can be done without wincing. It helps that set-up is a rapid, faff-free affair too, and once fork and shock sag was set, I’ve not had to tweak the suspension.
Tackling steep, roughed-up sections of trail can be done with relative precision and when the hits come, the Comp’s supple rear suspension doesn’t get overwhelmed, plus there’s enough progression to handle the really big hits in a composed manner.
There’s an element of comfort built into the Comp that I appreciated on arduous, fatigue-inducing descents where other bikes would leave me feeling beaten up. As a result though, things never feel quite as taut or urgent as I’d have liked when making split-second direction changes or slamming from turn to turn. Plus, I’d argue the bottom bracket could be dropped a few millimetres lower still.
Though the Comp isn’t a ‘point and plough’ machine, it still lacks some of the zip required to give it more of a pinpoint, accurate edge.
On high-speed sections of trail, things never felt skittish or unsettled, the Yari fork up front doesn’t offer quite the same comfort levels as the pricier Charger Damper-equipped Lyrik, which can be found on similarly priced bikes.
However, it is still an incredibly well-controlled fork and does an admirable job of balancing grip and support — it just isn’t as composed on the fast, repetitive hits, resulting in your hands taking more of a pounding. This is by no means a deal breaker though.
Specialized’s classic FSR suspension has stood the test of time Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
When the trail does begin to mellow, the Enduro carries speed well, with enough support in the suspension to let you pump the trail’s undulations without feeling like the bike’s soaking up too much energy in the process.
Winching back up the hill doesn’t feel that arduous, even if the Comp isn’t the lightest in its category. Flick the compression lever on the shock and you’ll instantly appreciate the steep seat-tube angle as you claw your way up the trail.
And though some will gripe the Comp doesn’t come with the latest 12-speed gearing, I got on well with the 1×11 GX set-up and managed every technical climb I pointed the Enduro at.
Overall, while this bike doesn’t feel as reactive or energetic in certain trail situations, its comfort and balance make it seriously surefooted when the terrain gets really ugly.
If you’re in the market for a new enduro bike, long travel trail bike or all-mountain bike, check out our reviews of those we’ve thoroughly tried and tested.